Fans flock to Rupp Arena for ESPN Game Day
Kentucky basketball’s passionate fan base flexed its muscles in 2016-17, leading the country in average home attendance once again.
UK led all schools in the NCAA with an average of 23,461 fans per home game, according to national attendance figures released by the NCAA on Tuesday. It’s the 19th time in the last 22 seasons Kentucky has led the country in average home attendance. Since Rupp Arena opened for the 1976-77 season, UK has ranked either first or second in average home attendance every season.
The Wildcats have averaged more than 23,000 fans at Rupp in seven of John Calipari’s eight seasons at Kentucky. (See all the basketball attendance records.)
Playing 17 home games in 2016-17, 398,850 fans attended games in Rupp Arena. UK was one of only three schools with at least 300,000 fans at its home games.
A total of 706,331 fans watched the Wildcats play at home, on the road and at neutral sites in 2016-17, more than any other school. Kentucky set the NCAA record in 2013-14 with 922,653 total fans.
The Southeastern Conference had the third-highest attendance among the 32 NCAA Division I conferences. A total of 31,859,477 fans watched games in Divisions I, II and III in college basketball this past season.
Fans of Kentucky basketball teams also turned out for Louisville, which was ranked third in attendance in 2016. Following Louisville was North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Carolina State, Kansas, Creighton, Nebraska, Arkansas, Michigan State, BYU, Arizona, Iowa State, Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa and Purdue.
And for the 14th straight season, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team ranked in the top 25 nationally in average attendance, sitting 14th overall with 5,213 fans per home game during the 2016-17 season.
Overall in 20 homes games — including one inside Rupp Arena — the UK women amassed a total attendance of 104,252, which ranked eighth nationally in 2016-17. The season marked the sixth straight year the UK women have surpassed 100,000 in total attendance.